“I Don’t Fit In.”By Dr. Margaret Paul
May 14, 2012
Do you believe that you are supposed to 'fit in?' You might feel differently after reading this article!
The other morning, I opened our carton of eggs to make my breakfast. I looked at the beautiful eggs we get from our local organic farmer, James Ranch. The eggs were all different colors—light green, white, dark brown, light brown and speckled brown. They were also all different sizes. I felt grateful that I got to look at all the different colors and sizes rather than the same-size, same-color eggs that come in the cartons of store eggs. The thought occurred to me—why is sameness so important to people? Why do they want eggs that are all the same size and all the same color?
I often hear from my clients, "I don't fit in." "I'm too different from everyone else." "I'm an alien."
"I'm different and an alien too," I tell them, "and I'm proud of it. I don't want to 'fit in' and be like everyone else. I just want to be me."
Many of us grew up believing that if we were 'different,' there was something wrong with us. In junior high and high school, all I wanted was to be just like everyone else. I never was, but I got good at faking it so that I could fit in.
But as time went on, I found myself very bored with the people I considered 'normal.' Then I realized that I was equating 'normal' with 'average.' Did I really want to strive to be average? No! I was never average at anything! I was the type of kid who worked and worked until I mastered something. When my parents bought me a pogo stick when I was about 10, I practiced and practiced until I could jump that pogo stick forever—hundreds of times without ever falling off. I did not know one other kid who could do that. I did the same thing with free throws in basketball. I was the best kid on the block in free throws!
I did this with everything that interested me. Nothing less that excellence would do. But, this meant that I didn't exactly fit in, as few kids I knew were willing to put in that kind of time to achieve excellence.
A few years after starting college, I read a couple of books on what was going on in our country regarding the food industry. That's when I threw all the food out of my little kitchen and started to eat organic. Again, I didn't fit in. I remember one day when I was in the ceramics lab at UCLA eating yogurt—which is common now but at that time was considered weird—and people were laughingly calling me a health food nut. I WAS definitely devoted to health food, but did that mean I was a nut? I accepted the label and started to call myself a health food nut—with pride! It was years before others caught up enough to no longer think there was something weird or nutty about how I ate.
Now, I no longer want to fit in at all. I like being just who I am—different, weird and alien. As I looked at my beautiful different colored, different size eggs, I felt joy in the differences and joy in my appreciation of my own differences and others' differences. I love people who cherish their differences, and I really don't like it when James Ranch is out of eggs and I have to buy the eggs in a health food store—all the same size and all white or the very same shade of brown. How boring!
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We cannot get to know each other just through talking. We get to know each other deeply through being - laughing, crying, playing, loving, conflict, learning. Words are easy - anyone can say anything about themselves, but we cannot hide our intent in our real interactions. We cannot know someone's heart through words alone.
By Dr. Margaret Paul